The Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia rejected the plan to release the defendants in the 2015 Makkah Crane Incident at Masjid al-Haram and instead ordered a retrial of the incident 7 years ago.
The Haram crane incident happened during the Haram expansion project, where a crane fell on a crowd of Hajj pilgrims on September 11, 2015. The accident killed 108 pilgrims and left 238 injured.
Earlier on August 4, 2021, the High Court upheld the decision of the Makkah Criminal Court to acquit the defendant in the crane accident case. In December 2020, the Makkah Criminal Court issued its verdict for the third time, confirming that 13 defendants, including construction company Saudi Bin Ladin Group, were innocent of the accident because there was no evidence of negligence but natural factors.
The Makkah Criminal Court said the accident was caused by heavy rains and thunderstorms and was not human error or negligence.
In a recent development, the Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia decided to overturn all decisions issued by the Makkah Criminal Court and Court of Appeals in this case. The Court also ordered all cases to be re-examined through a new court process without involving the judge who previously considered this case.
The Supreme Court has notified the defendants, the Court of Appeal, and other competent authorities of the new decision. A source told the Saudi Gazette that the Supreme Court had presented 10 defendants, but the other three were not present. On that occasion, the Court explained why this case should be reopened.
According to the Court’s decision, after examining various aspects of the case, it was revealed that there was a request from the Ministry of Finance to remove the crane at that time as it was no longer needed. It was also stated that the defendants did not present evidence to allow the crane to be installed through explicit written directions from the project manager or the supervisory consultant.
In addition, there was also an oddity as to why the crane arm was still attached and not lowered, even though it coincided with the peak of the hajj season. At that time, the project work was stopped to ensure the safety and security of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.
The Court believed that the accident demonstrated the lack of care that was needed for the safety of the pilgrims during the peak season of Hajj, especially when the weather conditions were not good.
Another thing, the Court revealed that several workers who operate and install cranes and supervisors who work at the location do not have competence. It was stated that some of the workers authorized to operate the cranes were illiterate. In addition, no documented evidence was provided to the investigative team to prove the competency level of the workers.